Addictionland - Addiction Recovery Blog

Addictionland - Addiction Recover Blog

Subscribe to feed Viewing entries tagged 12 steps

Recovery Is For Anybody

Posted by tbranston
tbranston
tbranston has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 19 December 2012
in Alcoholism 1 Comment

Many years before I found my way into a group room or sat in a chair before a client, I listened to a recording of Dr. King and his "I Have a Dream" speech.  Having listened to his speech I knew I wanted to help people in some way and I knew I wanted to affect change, I just didn't know how. I had a dream of supporting clients to find a way to exit addiction. I suspect I must have found a way to reach my goal as more than 28 years later I continue to support people to find a way to to achieve sobriety. When I was wandering about trying different careers, I tried selling cars for a bit.  The work didn't engage me, but in some way I latched on to the idea of sales.  In some way I sell sobriety.  I am able to highlight the various features of recovery and like car maintenance, I am able to show clients what they need to do to achieve lasting recovery.  Taking care of your car is a choice, much like recovery is a choice. To stay sober you need to do many little things on a regular basis that support you to abstain from chemicals or support you to make a decision to use in spite of all of the evidence to the contrary.  It's not much different than maintaining a car.  If you neglect the maintenance your vehicle will cease to run. To this end I think that everybody has the ability to make a choice and find sobriety.

Over 32 years ago I made a conscious decision to quit using chemicals.  I found a way that worked for me with the help of my grandparents.  The way they supported me to remain sober looks very similar to the way I have been able to help clients find sobriety.  Throughout my career I have seen various trends in the field of addiction recovery.  While the addiction treatment industry was borne out of the self-help movement, things have changed.  While I can see the benefit of attending support groups, most research has not affected the way support groups and the 12-step movement operate.  However,  great strides in modern science have brought many changes in the way addiction treatment and mental health services are delivered. We have seen the the advent of anti-craving medications, the creation of various cognitive behavioral therapies, motivational interviewing, the creation of the Transtheoretical Model (stages-of-change) short-term therapy, goal-based treatment, and the implementation of peer-led support.

While I think many changes in the addiction treatment industry have been helpful, I have seen an intensification in the negative attitudes from some folks in various support groups or clinicians in the recovery community suggesting the "new methods" are essentially harmful.  I don't think this is the case.  I think that many people who see the "new therapies" as harmful are misinformed and narrowly focused.  It seems to me that at times people forget that recovery looks different for everybody.  I am not sure how attending 12-step meetings gives a person special insight over someone who found recovery though a therapist and anti-craving medications.  It seems to me that recovery is a choice.  How we get there shouldn't matter - what matters is that we find a way and that we get there.

This might be a contentious statement for some folks, but my sense is that recovery alone is not a job qualification.  I don't think that being sober gives us any special insight into the addicted mind or the behavior of an addict.  In some ways we could suggest that a period of recovery without a professional and educational background to complement our experience could be seen as a hindrance and allow us to be less than objective?  Perhaps recovery alone positions us to be too close to the issue at hand and would serve as a deterrent for a sober person trying to run a group in a treatment facility.  I don't think that being sober makes us special, just different.

Many times I will hear someone in recovery suggest that 'only an addict or alcoholic can understand another addict or alcoholic'.  I don't think this is the case and is essentially an urban myth.  When I think of addiction I think of people feeling helpless, powerless, and being held captive by their dark side. My sense is that we don't need to be brilliant to understand the mind of an addict, just human.

...
Hits: 244
0 votes

WHY I BECAME A SOBER COACH

Posted by PattyPowers
PattyPowers
Patty Powers is a sober coach and writer. She was featured on the A&E mini serie
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 31 May 2012
in Alcoholism 2 Comments

If I’m to be honest answering this question, there will be no quick way through it. I could say I became a sober coach because I was tired of going to bed at 6am and sick of having to shout over loud music to be heard  - but that’s only part of it.

When I got clean in 1988, I placed all bets on my writing. This meant that instead of taking a job that would have career advancement, I stuck with freelance work, doing anything that could finance large chunks of uninterrupted writing time. I came up during the late 70s and 80s among a scene of underground artists, musicians, and filmmakers, many of whom went on to mainstream success. After I got clean, I became the go-to girl for anyone from my previous life wanting to get off drugs. This lead to my first coaching jobs inside the entertainment industry. The calls were so random that I never considered it a real employment source. In between coaching gigs, I continued to take on whatever work paid the bills. Coaching and sober companion work felt like the right fit but I never gave it much thought as a career. At the time it was controversial and renegade.


As the years passed, I continued to write and perform. Although my work was being published and optioned, I still hadn’t made it through the “big doors". It killed me to watch my friends’ lives successfully moving forward while mine seemed, at least outwardly, frozen in time. What was i doing wrong?  My moment of clarity came at fifteen years clean. It occurred to me that I had never stopped directing my romantic and financial affairs and those two areas were not changing. I needed to let go (as they say in 12 step programs) but I didn’t know how. I definitely couldn’t think my way into a new life. I suppose I needed a spiritual experience but being an atheist this was difficult to imagine.

Right as my screenplay was gaining momentum and I was being flown back and forth across the country, the writers’ strike happened. Out of money, I went back to working in bars. The loud music and crazy hours were killing me. Like my final days with drugs, I was absolutely miserable and hopeless. At seventeen years clean, I was back at square one. Then the most amazing thing happened - I ran out of ideas on how to run my life. I was having tea with an old friend from the music industry when I asked him “You know me really well – what do you think I should do for a living?” It didn’t take a minute before he said, “You’d be perfect as a sober companion.”  I had no idea that sober coaching had come into its own as a profession. The renegade rock and roll days had paved the way and now treatment facilities, therapists, and psychiatrists were seeing positive results from setting up clients with sober companions. My friend suggested I contact a couple LA friends to see if anyone had leads.

The stars aligned and within 24 hours I had my first client outside of the entertainment industry. What was interesting to me was how everything I’d ever learnt in my life came into play - not just my personal experience in recovery but the information I’d amassed on nutrition, exercise, meditation, dealing with anxiety, insomnia, and depression. Every aspect of my life had prepared me to do this work.

The real test came on day three when my client’s prominent psychotherapist called for an update. Until then I had been working intuitively and unlike managers, agents, and the people I was used to dealing with, the person on the other end of the phone was skilled in mental health work. If I was a fraud she was going to call me out. Nervous, I took a deep breath and told her honestly what I saw and what I was working on with the client. The phone went silent and my stomach flipped. “I have been working with ___ for three years and you nailed every single item on my list”. His words confirmed that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

For me, falling into coaching was a spiritual experience. When I finally “let go” sober coaching came into my life. I loved it and had great results with clients. From that point on, doors kept opening. One day I got a call from the producers of Intervention about a new mini-series they were casting. Over night, this semi-secret career of mine became very public.

The television series shifted the direction of my life yet again. I received many heartbreaking emails from addict viewers who were without financial resources for treatment. I decided to set up a website and share freely what I do with clients. Currently I’m in the process of writing several books on recovery. What started as a part-time job to finance my writing has become the subject of my writing. No one could be more surprised by this than me.


To read what I do with clients as a sober coach, visit http://pattypowersnyc.com/sobercoac/

 

Hits: 1238

Staying Sober with Mandates and Injunctions

Posted by tbranston
tbranston
tbranston has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 09 May 2012
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

When a person decides to get sober the idea of staying sober can be overwhelming.  The fear of relapse looms large.  A quick review of the literature suggests that the success rate is relatively small when compared to the number of people who attempt to find sobriety.  According to a 2003 study, the Caron Foundation documented that nearly 50-90% of people relapse within the first year after treatment or involvement in a 12-step program. Precursors to relapse can include anger, frustration, stress, or positive emotional states. The National Institute of Drug Abuse have determined that relapse rates from addiction can be compared to those suffering from other chronic illnesses such as Type I diabetes (30 - 50%), Hypertension (50-70%) and asthma (50 to 70%). Drug addiction should be treated like any other chronic illness, with relapse indicating the need for renewed intervention.

It is important to make the distinction between addiction and dependence.  Addiction is a change in behavior to accommodate or obtain the chemical, while dependence is indicated by measurable physical symptoms that arise when the chemical is not consumed. It is the general opinion of many addiction specialists that addiction is largely biochemical and that relapse is largely the result of cravings and proximity to alcohol/drugs or uncomfortable feelings.

Another skill which can be utilized to support recovery is the application of mandates and injunctions. A mandate is a set of thoughts that direct the addict to engage in using behavior when they have an urge to use.  An injunction is a set of criteria that provides the recovering person a way to think about their recovery so they don’t compartmentalize the skills and gifts they bring to their sobriety. In its simplest form it’s a part of a relapse prevention plan.

This approach is another way a clinician can help a client develop additional skills to maintain abstinence. Part of this includes an emergency sobriety card and an accountability contract. An emergency sobriety card provides a brief list of specific and concrete instructions that a person in recovery can refer to anytime when he or she needs help. It’s a small discreet tool that helps the addict find and build confidence in their ability to remain sober. The accountability contract is a set of permissions that an addict gives to his or her family and friends when its determined their recovery is in trouble.  The inclusion of family and friends as part of an addict’s recovery can provide support and help an addict get back on track.

Recovery need not be overwhelming and can be managed successfully. Matching a client to a recovery program is paramount, as we understand that recovery looks different for everyone.  In recovery from addiction, it is important to change your lifestyle to include abstinence from alcohol and drugs; involvement in healthy relationships; good nutrition, rest and exercise; and working to resolve one's personal problems.  Being mindful to incorporate the philosophy of mandates and injunctions will go a long way to build confidence in your recovery program.

Hits: 486
0 votes

Having a difficult time staying sober?? Maybe it’s not you – maybe it’s brain chemistry.

Posted by tbranston
tbranston
tbranston has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 01 May 2012
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

 

You know the drill: you have spent countless hours in meetings, on the phone with your sponsor asking endless questions about your desire to use.  You have worked the steps and you’ve even consulted specialists.  In a moment of desperation you found help by attending treatment. You’re able to rack up six to twelve months, but eventually you find yourself in the throes of your addiction. None of this seems to work.  You find yourself questioning your commitment and ability to stay sober.  Maybe your sponsor was right when he said you lack willingness.

Not so fast….

What you are likely experiencing is Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS.

PAWS consist of a set of impairments that occur immediately and at times simultaneously after the withdrawal from alcohol or other substances.  These impairments affect three distinct areas of functioning and last six to eighteen months from the last use of alcohol or drugs as your brain tries to regain homeostasis.

...
Hits: 606
0 votes

Abstinence Aggravates Alcoholism

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
FrothyJay has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 19 November 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

The typical picture painted of alcoholism is the staggering, drooling drunk-- usually a pathetic, affable person making a scene of some sort.  

I've come to understand that this does not capture the true essence of alcoholism.  It merely paints a picture of the alcoholic who has found a temporary solution (alcohol).   The spiritual malady has been sedated, the resentments and fears that eat their insides daily have been put to sleep.  Drunkeness provides relief from alcoholism.

To see true alcoholism, watch the sober, untreated alcoholic.   They are coming out of their skin, perhaps because they are doing all they can to fight a physical compulsion to drink, or maybe because they've been without a drink for a week or a month or a year and are battling daily mental urges to drink.  Impatience, irritability and edginess mark their day, they often appear forlorn and lonely, and any happiness often appears disingenuine and affected. For me, I often felt like my head might explode at any given moment, and I often wished for it.

This is why we drink:  this condition becomes unbearable.  It's often a choice between a bottle of vodka and a three state killing spree.  And we choose vodka, thankfully. When we hear it said that certain dry alcoholics should just drink, this is what drives it:  that person creates less havoc, misery, and destruction when they are drunk than when they are not.

Abstinence does not treat alcoholism, it aggravates it.   It's an untenable, in-between state for the hopeless alcoholic-- they either return to drinking or they find a spiritual solution to their spiritual problem.  

Don't ever tell me my worst day sober was better than my best day drunk.  Utter nonsense.

Cross-posted at Thump.

Hits: 1246
0 votes

Why "Don't Drink No Matter What" Is The Dumbest, Most Dangerous Thing You Can Say To An Alcoholic

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
FrothyJay has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 14 November 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

Our former group secretary started her share yesterday saying "I have no idea what happened," and unintentionally captured the most maddening, misunderstood quality of alcoholism.  She got drunk the night before, and-- in addition to being shocked and mortified-- was scratching her head.

"I had to plan it, because there was no alcohol in the house," she said.  "So I had to go the liquor store.  You would think I would have stopped myself at some point."

It reminded me of one of my own relapses.  I was strapped to a hospital bed, tubes in my mouth, and my sponsor at the time stood at the end of the bed and asked, "Why didn't you call me?"

"Really?" I remember thinking. "That's what you've got for me?" 

"The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called willpower becomes practically non-existent.  We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our conciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago.  We are without defense against the first drink." Alcoholics Anonymous, page 24

The majority of people in A.A. continue to believe that this program is about building obstacles to the first drink, about not taking the first drink no matter what, about creating a support network of people that will stand between you and alcohol.  As well-intentioned as these tactics are, they ironically only work for non-alcoholics. If simple awareness and understanding of the disease, or the admonishment of another human being, are sufficient to keep you sober, you aren't powerless over alcohol.  Don't misunderstand- perhaps it's better that you not drink. There are plenty of hard drinkers who create havoc and misery, and if you have a desire to not drink, there's a place for you in A.A. But when I read the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous, I see you differently than me. 

I require a spiritual awakening to survive, you require a well-charged cell phone.

But back to the point--dissecting relapses is a staggering waste of time, and a thinly veiled attempt to regain power over the disease of alcoholism.  I've come to appreciate my relapses as critical evidence about the futility of my condition, as experience that lined up perfectly with the information I was presented from the AA Text Book.  I can't not drink. I must find a power greater than myself that will solve the problem for me.

There are several components to the first step.  The physical allergy-- when I put it in me it says "give me more"-- is just the first part.   This is the part that nearly everyone in A.A. gets.  But the second part-- the mental obsession-- is casually dismissed by most.  The broad side of Alcoholics Anonymous operates under the painfully misguided idea that once sober, once dried out, the alcoholic must now use willpower and other humans to stay away from the first drink.  And when the alcoholic fails at this-- and most do-- they are often told that "perhaps they are not ready."  Or, "maybe you need to drink more."  

This sort of staggering ignorance could drive a man to violence, you know?

If I believe my disease is ocassion-based, I will likely have occasion-based sobriety.

 

...
Hits: 1818
0 votes

Demi

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
FrothyJay has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 01 September 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

"We're going to shoot pool tonight, and you're coming."

That was the first phone call from Demi, way back in 1996, and I remember groaning audibly.

"Are you going to sit in your apartment and feel sorry for yourself?  Besides, there will be girls there.  Pick you up at 7."

I was a day removed from a hospital stay for alcohol poisoning.  I'd been sober six months prior to that, one of those months in rehab.  I was in a state of shock that I'd drank again despite the years of pain it had brought me. Making matters worse, I'd shown up drunk at work, knocked a printer off a file cabinet, and then been sent to my parents' home in a car service (my employer was familiar with my problem). Since my parents weren't home, I raided their liquor cabinet. They came home to find me sprawled unconcious on the kitchen floor (in a rather nice suit).  It would be my last drink for 11 years.

I met Demi at the first meeting I attended after leaving the hospital.  His real name was Demetrius. I shared in a quivering voice what had happened and that I was really serious this time.  Truth was, I was already planning my next drink-- I'd gone to the meeting to get my parents off my back.  I knew I was in trouble, but dealing with that trouble was incomprehensible.  I needed to be drunk.  Whatever happened after that, so be it.

...
Hits: 1362
0 votes

Simplicity vs. Laziness

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
FrothyJay has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 13 July 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

At what point does Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS) become a subtle form of laziness? Do we really believe that the years spent living on self-will and all the attendant behaviors we've learned and damage we left will be "simply" fixed? Writing your fourth step is not simple-- it requires guidance, patience, and focus. Anyone can do it, but the endeavor should not be dismissed as easy. Our ninth step amends are ususally delicate interactions that require advance planning and rehearsal. Not simple, but achievable. 

I see "keep it simple" as used far too casually, often times in response to a question or issue that requires a bit of thought. Yes, there may be no right or wrong answer, but that does not mean that as recovered alcoholics we should not be spending time with the idea. Taking on intellectually-challenging concepts are a form of spiritual growth, no?

I do not tell my sponsees that it is a simple program. I tell them there is work to do to achieve a sense of simplicity in life. I don't dismiss their questions as "over-thinking," but try to offer my thoughts and then redirect them to the work at hand.

Cross-posted at Thump.

 

 

Hits: 1434
0 votes

The Pagan in Recovery: The Twelve Steps from a Pagan Perspective

Posted by deirdrehbrt
deirdrehbrt
deirdrehbrt has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 29 June 2011
in none 0 Comments

Hi, I'm Dee.

I mentioned on a Facebook page that I've written a new book about the Twelve Steps from a Pagan perspective, and someone suggested that I make an excerpt available here.
If you would care to look at a preview, the first 20 or so pages are available here: http://www.lulu.com/product/file-download/the-pagan-in-recovery-the-twelve-steps-from-a-pagan-perspective/15925326?productTrackingContext=author_spotlight_104954579_

So what is this book about? Well, the title pretty much says it all, but let me explain a little. When I first entered the halls, I nearly ran out. While I know now that the Twelve Steps were written to be accessible to all, the truth is that in the rooms and in the texts, a very Christian attitude does exist. This is unavoidable because, especially in the United States, Christianity is the majority religion. Bill W. and Dr. Bob were also steeped in Christian tradition, and the program itself is a descendent of the Oxford Group - a Christian program.

So, as a Pagan, I was a little put off by a very Christian attitude. So often I'd hear "My higher power, who is Jesus Christ". The Lord's Prayer, a very Christian prayer is said at most meetings. AA's 12&12, and the Big Book mention Christian prayers and concepts quite often.

While, as a Pagan, I found this favor toward a specific religion and little mention of others a bit disturbing, I also knew that my very survival depended on recovery. My last outing found me waking (or regaining consciousness) in an intensive care ward at my local hospital. I didn't have much farther down to go. Quite simply, I needed to make this work - the alternative wasn't merely unpleasant - there was no longer an alternative.

As I worked the program, I came upon other Pagans - many who had left the program, many who were struggling. I spoke about the possibility of writing such a book, and the enthusiasm for this book was almost deafening. About a year later, this book was ready.

The Pagan in Recovery isn't a new program. Rather, it's a book that explains how ANY existing program can be used effectively by a Pagan. Let me know what you think; I'm interested in people's opinions. If you have questions about Paganism, or how a Pagan can utilize the steps, I'd love to talk about that too!

Hits: 2555
0 votes

The AA Echo Chamber

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
FrothyJay has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 25 June 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

Next time you're in an AA meeting, take a look around the room. Maybe there are 25 people and, with rare exception, most of them are sober, right? In fact, many are months removed from their last drink, and you've probably got a group that has decades of sobriety. Putting aside where each person may be in their own recovery, that room is irrefutable evidence that AA works, right?

OK, multiply the number of people by 20. You've got 500 alcoholics now. Can't fit them, right?  Imagine them on each others' laps, standing in the doorway, lining the hallways.  Maybe you can hear them murmuring outside in the parking lot, unable to get in the door. What you've now added is the number of people who came to AA and left after a year, according to AA's own study:

"After just one month in the Fellowship, 81% of the new members have dropped out.  After three months, 90% gave left, and 95% have discontinued attendance inside one year." (Kolenda, 2003, Golden Text Publishing)

Now look around the room at the mostly drunk, strung-out, quivering mass of humanity. Still think AA works?

Most members of the AA fellowship will tell you that AA works because it works for them.  I know this because it's precisely what I did for 10 years.  It was the newcomers' responsibility to get it, not mine to impart it.   If they stopped showing up, I got good at shrugging my shoulders and saying, "they aren't ready," or worse, "they don't want it."

...
Hits: 2064
0 votes

The Vast Chasm Between Alcoholism And A Drinking Problem

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
FrothyJay has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 19 June 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

"Whether such a person can quit upon a nonspiritual basis depends upon the extent to which he has already lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not."

Alcoholics Anonymous, page 34, More About Alcoholism

Of the many internal rearrangements I experienced as a result of the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, the most profound was in how I understood the disease.  This shift was a direct result of being able to align the experience and pain of my repeated relapses with the explanation of the disease in the first 63 pages of the Alcoholics Anonymous text book (with the help of a terrific teacher).  Ideas and concepts I had held for decades about the nature of alcoholism were rendered embarassingly inaccurate.  Many of the AA sayings  I had chanted effortlessly for years (just don't pick up the first drink!) suddenly felt like codependent sloganeering.

Had you asked me several years ago what the difference was between a drinking problem and alcoholism, I would have likely responded "not much."  Try to explain it to me?  I'd have politely nodded but dismissed you as someone with way too much time on their hands.  I simply was not there-- I had double digit sobriety, a good life and the assurance that by keeping my memory green about where alcohol had taken me, I'd never drink again.  I've since learned that alcoholism is cunning and baffling; it can also masquerade as sobriety.  In retrospect, I was unaware that the very proclamations I valued as manifestations of my sobriety were really untreated alcoholism.  And it was biding its time, trying to find another way in.

But back to the point of the post-- what's the difference?  I see it this way:  the person with a drinking problem should stop, and usually can.  The person with alcoholism must stop and cannot.

...
Hits: 1732
0 votes

Sloganpalooza!

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
FrothyJay has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 12 June 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

I made the tactical error this afternoon of revealing in an AA meeting that part of my first step experience was the realization that many of the AA slogans I'd been mindlessly repeating for over a decade were completely at odds with my new understanding of my condition.  I call it a mistake not because I regret saying it, but because the rest of the meeting became an impassioned defense of AA sloganeering.  As a friend pointed out afterwards, I had inadvertently provided the red meat that our fellowship often prefers over a discussion of recovery.  My bad.

The point I had tried to make was that once I'd conceded to my innermost self that I was powerless over alcohol-- that I had no effective defense against the first drink-- expressions like "Don't Drink And Go To Meetings" and "Just Don't Pick Up The First Drink" rang incredibly hollow.  I just couldn't line them up with what I was reading in the AA textbook.  I mean, how can I understand that alcoholism is a disease of insanity, that we experience strange mental blank spots where we inexplicably pick up a drink again, and then appreciate the wisdom of "Think The Drink Through?"

Unfortunately, though, my point was lost.  No matter how I choose my words-- and admittedly, I sometimes choose badly-- when you suggest that the tools people have used for eons to not drink don't really work with alcoholism-- you're in for a long hour.

My issue is not with slogans, per se-- I'm all for whatever helps someone get through the day.  But the problem as I see it is the slogans have overtaken the program of recovery-- they are the only tools we offer in many AA meetings.  I'd have less of an issue with them if they were presented as a nice complement to the actual program of recovery-- the steps.  The slogans are garnish-- pretty, but largely inedible.

Cross-posted at Thump.

Hits: 1406
0 votes

"We AAs failed them"

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
FrothyJay has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 11 June 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

"Yet we can't well content ourselves with the view that all these recovery failures were entirely the fault of the newcomers themselves. Perhaps a great many didn't receive the kind and amount of sponsorship they so sorely needed. We didn't communicate when we might have done so. So we AA's failed them. Perhaps more often than we think, we still make no contact at depth with those suffering the dilemma of no faith."

Bill Wilson, AA Grapevine, April 1961 "The Dilemma of No Faith"

Cross posted at Thump.Increase

Hits: 1636
0 votes

The Rose Of the Winds

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
FrothyJay has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 09 June 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

IncreaseI stole this Nikos Kazantzakis quote from the Facebook page of a Thump fan, Robi Carlson, because I love language that challenges conceptions of spiritual power.

"The Great Spirit does not toil within the bounds of human time, place, or casualty. The Great Spirit is superior to these human questionings. It teems with many rich and wandering drives which to our shallow minds seem contradictory; but in the essence of divinity they fraternize and struggle together, faithful comrades-in-arms. The primordial Spirit branches out, overflows, struggles, fails, succeeds, trains itself. It is the Rose of the Winds."

In order to be willing to believe in a power greater than myself, I needed to set aside all of my ideas and concepts about "God."  I wiped the slate clean, even of the word "God." My conception of a higher power could not be tethered to human expression, not because I was special or intelligent, but because all language and expression carried some baggage, and I needed to be free of that.  It was the only thing that would work.  I needed to experience a power greater than myself, not define it.

Cross-posted at Thump.

...
Hits: 1501
0 votes

Advice That Can Kill: One Day At A Time

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
FrothyJay has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 07 June 2011
in Alcoholism 1 Comment

On the first Monday of each month, my beginners meeting reads from Living Sober.  I'm not sure who wrote this tragic little book, but the fact that Living Sober is conference-approved AA literature is one of the great mysteries of the AA fellowship.  Put nicely, there's just very little in Living Sober that you can line up with the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous.  In fact, much of it runs completely counter to the Big Book.  I like to think of it as  an operators' manual for the willpower.

And last night, we found ourselves reading one of my favorites, the chapter "Using the 24 Hour Plan."  This little treatise suggests that anyone can stop drinking for 24 hours, and that sobriety is really just stringing those 24-hour successes together.   One could argue that since AA has largely become a pep rally for abstinence, "Using the 24 Hour Plan" could be our new "How It Works."

I've got nothing against keeping it simple in the early phases of sobriety.  Getting past the physical urge to drink or use drugs is arguably the hardest thing we do, and unless we're locked up somewhere, it does require willpower.  Getting clear of that craving-- that maddening itch that needs scratching-- can be helped by breaking it down into digestable time segments.  I get it.

The problem, as I see it, is that many never get past One Day At A Time.  They grind it out, the physical obsession quiets, and they feel better.  They equate that physical restoration with recovery.  The condescending term used in AA for this feeling is a "pink cloud."  "Be careful," nods the sage oldtimer, "you're on a pink cloud."  This diagnosis is rarely followed with precise direction as to what the newcomer might do to guard against the looming relapse, unless you consider "keep coming back" to be meaningful advice.

...
Hits: 2422
0 votes

90 Beatings In 90 Days

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
FrothyJay has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 01 June 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

"90 meetings in 90 days" gets my vote as the saddest old saw in Alcoholics Anonymous.  Don't get me wrong-- I absolutely love AA meetings, and I did the 90 meetings in 90 days ritual a couple times. Problem was, that was the extent of my recovery, so I lived with this nagging superstitious fear that if I missed a day, I was destined to drink.  And my AA friends apparently had no desire to disabuse me of that notion.  

So where did this oft-repeated commandment come from?  You can't find it in the original AA program literature, but then again, much of what you'll hear in meetings today doesn't come from the AA program. No, like many of our modern pearls of wisdom in AA, the 90 in 90 idea comes from rehabs that felt obligated to give some direction to the freshly-detoxed alcoholics and addicts they were churning out like processed cheese.  So, in addition to a headful of slogans and a copy of Living Sober, the wide-eyed rehab graduates were instructed encouraged to get to 90 meetings in 90 days, lest they find themselves back in rehab (where, conveniently, most major credit cards are accepted).

The problem with 90 in 90 is that it implies attendance at meetings is all that's required to recover, and that could not be further from the vision of Alcoholics Anonymous.  When it is not paired with an almost immediate immersion in step work, 90 in 90 is tantamount to putting the new person on a shelf.  And it's nearly impossible to stay sober there.

To be clear, attending AA meeting is far better than not attending AA meetings, and if having a little rigid structure early in your recovery is helpful, then by all means, do 90 in 90. The real issue with the idea is one of emphasis. It's so over-used that it has become a form of temporary sponsorship, unfortunately because we're either reluctant to (or incapable of) telling the new person just how urgent their situation is and what's required to recover. Sadly, 90 in 90 provides cover for the person who lacks a message of depth and weight, who masquerades as an informed, experienced member of Alcoholics Anonymous.  

In other words, me, for over a decade.

Hits: 1887
0 votes

My Trigger: Daylight

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
FrothyJay has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 30 May 2011
in Alcoholism 1 Comment

IncreaseAnother concept often discussed in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous is triggers-- people, places and situations that create an environment where relapse is more likely.  At face value, being aware of situations or people that can make you more prone to drinking or using drugs is certainly valuable, particularly in early recovery when we're more vulnerable to the physical urges and mental obsessions that are part of the disease.

But the concept of triggers comes not from Alcoholics Anonymous but from the rehab industry, where the philosophy of recovery is more about fighting the urge to drink than it is removing the urge to drink.  While it's certainly well-intended, the idea that the chronic alcoholic can fight pitched-battles against urges for the balance of their lives, and win, runs completely counter to the idea of powerlessness as presented by the program of AA. Yet the fellowship of AA, by and large, embraces the idea of triggers and perpetuates the myth that we can stay sober by controlling our environment and interaction with others, that we are forever "recovering" and vulnerable, and not "recovered" and safe.  We seem to have forgotten what our textbook says on page 84 and 85:

"...we have ceased fighting anything or anyone--even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thoughts or efforts on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality--safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been remove, it doe's not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition."

Further, the idea that my disease is catalyzed by situations is fundamentally flawed.  I drank always, when the sun came up, when it went down, when life was good and life was bad.  When I begin to analyze conditions that led to drinking, I fall into the very trap that my alcoholism loves-- thinking that I can somehow control it. That is conditional powerlessness.  It was only through a very thorough understanding of my first step that I was able to realize the futility of these efforts.

...
Hits: 1873
0 votes

THE EFFICACY OF TWELVE STEP PROGRAMS

Posted by ChrisS
ChrisS
ChrisS has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 12 May 2011
in none 5 Comments

Chris is the Director of Media for C4 Recovery Solutions. In his role with C4, he has been tasked with hosting and developing the webcast show, The Afflicted and Affected, interviewing leaders in the addictive illness field and other interesting personalities revolving around the recovery world.

Hits: 2520
0 votes

Blogging Tip

It's easy, just fill out the title and write your blog.  You can select a category too.  Click "Publish Now" and you're done!

You don't have to worry about anything else, the other options are there for pro bloggers to use if desired.

This blog works best when you use Firefox as your browser.

Subscribe to Cate's Blog

Feedburner Subscription (RSS): Subscribe now

Subscription link for email feed: Subscribe to Blogs written by Cate - Addiction Blogs | Blogging Community by Email

Member Login